Frank's Photography Site

Wilkes-Barre, PA - South of downtown - May-June, 2013

South of downtown, divided by Market Street, only three lines remain.
The ex-LV/CNJ mainline ROW continues south of the city to Ashley, where just the easternmost line (CNJ Old Main) remains.
Beyond that, a short portion of the Nanticoke Branch continues along the back side of the Huber Breaker,
and then as far south as the Hanover Industrial park, where it ends in some newer industrial spurs.
Please see my Ashley page for a detailed documentation of that area.
Along South Main Street adjacent to Parrish Street, the ex-PRR line splits off to the southwest towards the Buttonwood Yard area.
At West End Road, just north of the yard area, the ex-Wilkes-Barre Connecting RR joins this line shortly after having
passed over a bridge over the Susquehanna River from Kingston. The WBCRR and points south of that junction along the ex-PRR line
are now owned and operated by the Canadian Pacific as far as Sunbury.
The ex-PRR line, the WBCRR and the ex-D&H mainline (currently owned by CP) will be covered on a separate page.

On the Ashley page, I covered as far north as the area just above West Ashley Street, where the main ROW heading south
out of Wilkes-Barre split apart in to three different lines, each once having their own elevated crossing over that road.
North of that point, the CNJ and LV once shared the same ROW (with two tracks each) up to a point near Dana Street.
Today, north of Dana to Market Street, the remaining single track line runs over the ex-LV ROW,
while south of that point the ex-CNJ alignment is used (the eastern side of the wide ROW).
I'm going to start at the East Division Street/West Liberty Street grade crossing and head north.

Here's the crossing as it looks today (looking north), and this area was known as Franklin Junction (May 30, 2013):


Just north of here, the CNJ Buttonwood Branch crossed a bridge over Solomon Creek and joined the mainline
from the northwest. At the grade crossing, the Franklin Branch split off to the east.
Here's a vintage photo by A.W. Kovacs taken in March 1968 at Franklin Junction.
We are looking north at the West Liberty Street crossing, with the tower still in operation.
You can see the Franklin Branch track split off at the bottom right to the east.
Note that the Lehigh Valley pair of tracks (which would have been to the left) are long gone by this point in time.
The LV Passenger Main was abandoned in November 1965, with the tracks most likely torn up shortly thereafter.
Note that the crossing gate was also re-installed further to the east on the ROW, now adjacent to the CNJ tracks.


Looking south from this point we see the remaining track on the CNJ (east side of the joint ROW), and the Huber Breaker
in the distance. We can also see that it was the CNJ eastbound track that survived, once its side became single-tracked.


On the right side (just south of the crossing (looking south), these concrete supports could be the remains of signal towers.


Looking north at the crossing itself, we can see the concrete slab which is the only reminder of the switching tower in the vintage photo above.


Across to the right from here is an unusual alcove made of stonework. I don't know what this was, but it's fairly old:


From about 1000 feet north of the crossing (looking north), here are two more concrete bases,
protection signals for the Buttonwood Branch which joined the mainline here from the west.
Here, the extant track runs on the LV side of the ROW for a brief time, probably due to the fact
that the Buttonwood Branch joined here (into the 1970's),
and changing the switch configuration would have been more costly.


Just below here, a curve (looking back south to the crossing), where the tracks shift sides again to the CNJ side.


Although the CNJ Buttonwood Branch is gone (torn out sometime between the mid-70's and 1983),
its bridge over Solomon Creek (in the woods just to the west of the main ROW) still remains.
Please see my short Buttonwood Branch set for more photos and information.


We are now continuing just north of this point on the main ROW (looking north), where adjacent Covell Street appears at the left.


It's a sort of swampy area on the left (LV side) as we approach the Blackman Street underpass to the north.
About four line poles still remain, as well as the remains of a signal box.






Under the Blackman Street underpass (looking south), we can see that there was plenty of space for four tracks...


...and looking south from above. The overhead pipe is some sort of gas line or utility conduit.


North from Blackman Street, we are heading towards Parrish Street, which once was a complex crossing area
for four railroads (LV, CNJ, PRR, D&H), all in the immediate vicinity of the Vulcan Iron Works complex.


Here's an old Ed Miller photo, looking north just above the Blackman Street bridge, where the LV tracks were the
left (westernmost) pair, with the CNJ pair to the right. Here, the D&H track can be seen branching off and continuing
straight ahead towards Race Street, crossing over the PRR line and South Main Street. This was the start of the D&H
Plymouth Branch. A yard area continued straight ahead along Race Street at one time, going just beyond Walnut Street.
The Plymouth Branch veered off to the west at Wood Street, continuing between Wood & Elizabeth, crossing Carey Avenue,
then running between Beekman & Conwell, crossing what is now Old River Road, then into an underpass under the WBCRR just west
of what is now the Martz Bus garage. Beyond that, there was a V-shaped junction with the WBCRR (Fish Island Junction),
and a single track bridge across the river to connect with the DL&W (earlier also a few other D&H coal branches in the area).
The crossover in the photo was removed around 1950, but the D&H still accessed a few industries along their line until the 1970's.
The entire line was abandoned after that, but the bridge over the river survived (trackless) until the early 2000's.


Going north across Parrish Street, we arrive at the junction with the ex-PRR line, joining from the southwest.



Across South Main Street, we see what was once the Vulcan Iron Works (locomotive factory), but now a metal scrap recycler.
Vulcan Iron works manufactured locomotives from 1849 to 1954. The Luzerne Susquehanna Railway still serves
this plant by rail, and you can see the ex-PRR line running in front of it heading southwest.


Looking south at Dana Street, we are at the point approaching where the old CNJ ROW would have merged with the LV ROW.
The extant track (from here north) is on the LV ROW, and the CNJ would have approached from directly behind us.


Turning around, the building at the left is CJ's Auto Repair, along what was once the CNJ ROW.


The next two photos are each a bit north of the previous photo, looking south on what was once the CNJ ROW.



Here, we are at High Street and Hazle Street, looking south and then north. Everything along the former CNJ ROW
has been completely reconfigured and regraded for new commercial buildings.
The last trackage may have been removed around the early 1980's, according to one source.
Also, Wilkes-Barre Boulevard did not exist until (a few years or more ?) after Hurricane Agnes (1972),
and much of it was built over the former CNJ ROW from the Stegmaier Beer complex (at Market Street) and to the south.



At the corner of Hazle Street and High Street, there is one section remaining of an old iron fence with uprights made of track sections.
There are several more uprights cut off at ground level where the fence continued along the short concrete wall.
This was most likely the location of a CNJ passenger station at Hazle Street. The site mentions it in a photo dated 1967,
but it would be too far off in the distance to be seen, and he doesn't mention if it was still standing at that time.



Back at Dana Street, we are now looking north along the extant track on the former LV ROW...


...and looking south from a bit further up the line. A side track runs for a while through this area.


Looking north towards the South Street bridge, and then south from it:



Just north of the South Street bridge is the abandoned Murray Complex.
I didn't take any photos of that on this day (5/30/13) because I knew I already had these four from 10/23/11:





Behind one of the buildings and leading up to it, a short piece of track remains in the pavement (5/30/13).


A bit further north, we are looking north towards Northampton Street. This was once a very complex rail area
before being completely made over for new businesses along Pennsylvania Ave (unseen off to the left on the front side of the buildings).
Even a huge paragraph couldn't do justice to the history here, but a great resource of what this area looked like at one time,
along with many photos, can be found at THIS page on the site.



Now, approaching Market Street from the south, the white building seen at the left faces Pennsylvania Avenue.
Just to the right of it was the site of the Wilkes-Barre Lehigh Valley passenger station, torn down in the mid-1960's.


Here, just before arriving at the Market Street crossing (looking north), we see the white Times-Leader (newspaper)
building straight ahead. That was once the site of the Laurel Line station.


Looking to the right, at nearly dusk, the Stegmaier Brewing Company buildings still dominate the area.


This was the CNJ side of the downtown track complex, where the CNJ station still stands to this day.
A few cars and a signal still remain adjacent to the station, and a onetime crossover track leading to the LV side.



For photos of the CNJ Station, please refer to THIS set I took on 4/12/10.
(This is also listed as a link on the index page for this part of the site.)

Here are three annotated aerial photos of the area covering from Blackman Street to Market Street.
They were cropped from a Penn Pilots photo dated May 6, 1959:

First, the vicinity of Vulcan Iron Works, Parrish and South Main:


Next, the Dana Street area where the CNJ split from the LV/PRR ROW heading north:


And finally, an overview of the downtown Wilkes-Barre trackage area south of Market Street:


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